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Chambersburg OKs comprehensive plan

November 18, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Borough Council on Monday unanimously approved a new comprehensive plan which will serve as a blueprint for the future development of the shrinking amount of remaining open land and redevelopment of aging parts of the town.

Council President William McLaughlin said two previous comprehensive plans, adopted in 1977 and 1995, were used to chart economic development, transportation, housing and other programs.

With a current population of about 21,000, the plan estimates that population could reach 29,000 by 2030 with the build-out of 169 undeveloped acres of land and redevelopment of 52 acres. The plan points to which areas should be used for residential and commercial development and where redevelopment efforts should focus.

The surveys for the comprehensive plan pointed to some contradictions:

n A majority of residents were satisfied with garbage and recycling collections and the appearance of neighborhoods, but were dissatisfied with snow removal, the condition of streets and the level of noise at night.

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n Many feel the downtown is "clean, friendly and inviting" and want more nighttime activities, but many also "perceive the downtown as unsafe at nighttime."

A summary of the borough's strengths showed residents like the Heritage Center, Capitol Theatre, history and attractions of the downtown, as well as low utility rates. Opportunities include continued downtown restoration, programs to support further building rehabilitation, a grocery store at Southgate Mall and a new restaurant to bring more people downtown at night.

Weaknesses include limited goods and services downtown, poor usage of second- and third floor space, the partially vacant Southgate Mall and lack of public transportation. Among the threat to the downtown were vacant store fronts, limited parking and shopping, and perceptions of Hispanic community.

The plan had been the subject of a hearing last month, which was recessed to address concerns raised by TB Woods. Representatives for the manufacturer had raised objections to the plan showing future parks and trails on a portion of its land, said Planning Coordinator Phil Wolgemuth.

"The plan has been amended to remove those items," Wolgemuth said. Those features had been included as part of an environmental district that has since been rescinded, he said.

A mountain biking organization had also submitted comments requesting the inclusion of more bicycle and pedestrian connections between existing parks, extension of the rail-trail and other bike-friendly features, Wolgemuth said.

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